Brian Boyle makes sense for the Leafs, but Tampa’s asking price may not

Outside of some Shattenkirk chatter last month, it doesn’t seem like there’s a huge amount of excitement around the Leafs when it comes to the approaching trade deadline. And while it’s a bit of a change-up from previous years, this isn’t exactly surprising. The team has somewhat over-achieved and found themselves on the playoff bubble, but also abides to a strict long-term plan. They probably won’t be seen as buyers or sellers at the end of the month, and I doubt much of the fanbase disagrees with that strategy.

That said, while it’s difficult to envision any core pieces or large salaries moving, there could be a tweak or two. If teams want to unload late-round picks for the likes of Hunwick or Polak, I’m sure that’s a deal that could make sense. And as for adding, there are some good depth options out there that likely won’t require selling the farm, some of whom the Leafs have already been tied to. 

There have been some rumours flying around that the Leafs are among a few teams interested in acquiring Brian Boyle from the under-achieving Lightning. Boyle is 32-years-old and currently carries a $2-million cap hit on a contract that expires this summer.

From Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

Another UFA to watch is Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle. You can see why playoff teams would be interested. Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli went to see him in Minnesota last Friday. Columbus and Toronto are believed to be among other potential suitors. (The Maple Leafs tried to sign him as a free agent in 2014, although it was a different regime.)

If the Leafs are serious about Boyle, it’s no trouble to see why. While he’s a bottom six player, he would be a massive upgrade on Ben Smith, their current option at 4C. At 6’07 Boyle is enormous, and has always been a strong play-driver. He’s also good to chip in a few goals, averaging around 13 per 82 games over the course of his nine year career.



But while Boyle would clearly make the Leafs’ lineup better, is that improvement worth as much as a first round pick? That’s the price that’s being tossed around out there these days, and for Toronto that has to be too steep. If the Leafs were three years into this thing and in a place where, say, the Penguins or Capitals are, you might be able to justify a move like that. Right now it just can’t be in the cards.

Still, with Boyle on the fourth line with some duo from Soshnikov/Leivo/Martin, that’s a formidable unit that can take on some decent minutes as the Leafs go down the stretch and hopefully into the playoffs. For a lighter price than the one currently being advertised, Boyle is definitely an intriguing option. Does a second-rounder make sense? The Leafs hold two in this draft, so it’s something I’d give some thought to. And then there’s the prospect of re-signing Boyle beyond this season. He is getting to the point where his age is going to be a concern soon, but for a team with essentially endless cap space next season, overpaying him on a one-year deal could be a tidy piece of business.

Basically what this comes down to is whether this supposed going rate for Boyle is rooted in reality. We’ve seen teams pony up 1sts for depth players at the deadline before, and this draft is being billed as one of the weakest in years, but it does seem like managers are stingier about those picks than before. If Boyle can be had for a later pick or some combination of B-prospects, that might be something that makes sense for Lamoriello. Anything more than that will likely take Toronto away from their comfort zone and out of the running. 

  • Harte of a Lion

    We are all anxious for the Leafs to add as long as the cost is not prohibitive. I have faith in Shanahan, Lamoriello and Babcock to do what’s best for the future of my beloved Maple Leafs.
    For anyone who has not seen this video yet it’s worth a look, it actually brought tears to my eyes, Go Leafs!

    • LukeWarmWater

      Harte thank God I bought the large box of kleenex yesterday as it truly did bring back tears of joy to this 61 year leaf fan. Thanks for posting it and making my day Harte

  • bigrigM

    Does Boyle bring anything beyond size that Brooks Laich wouldn’t? Brooks is on an expiring contract and is widely considered to be a great leader. He’ll also be extremely motivated to prove his worth beyond this season. I hate the idea of losing a high pick, even in a weak year, for a rental. Its too early for that. Besides, that “weak” first rounder could be groomed to be the future 3rd or 4th line C if you don’t heap the typical 1st round expectations on the kid right out of the gate. See: Mistakes made with Freddie the Goat

    • LukeDaDrifter

      You bring up a good point. The Leafs already have veteran players on the Marlies that are available to fill in a so called “rental player’s role”. There is no mention of how well Boyle does on faceoffs. If he was to replace Smith, I am sure Babcock would be comparing that stat.

  • Stan Smith

    Shanahan and crew have said all along they would only make deals with the future in mind. Does Boyle, at 32, fit that plan? I don’t think so. I think Gauthier will fit the 4th centre role just fine.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      It makes me wonder how Boyle “is getting to the point where his age (32) is going to be a concern soon”

      Yet Tyler Bozak at 30 is already too old. Boyle is almost 3 years older than Bozak.

      • Getrdone

        LukeDD is this not just chatter? So far the Leaf management have done exactly what they have said. Stay the course, bring our young players along and only make a move that helps us into the future. Boyle does not fit that blueprint, so I think it is just hockey writers/bloggers and talking heads having something to fill the sound bites with.

  • Anonymous

    It would be a major blunder for the Leafs to give up any assets at all for the over-the-hill Brian Boyle. Aside from his size, I see this declining asset as nothing but a liability to the Leafs. If I was the GM of the Leafs I would be asking to receive a first or 2nd round pick for the service of relieving the Bolts of this liability.